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France logs fastest annual growth in a decade

The 19-member eurozone’s second-largest economy has seen its GDP expanding at the fastest pace since 2011. Analysts said the country benefitted from reforms initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron.The French economy grew by 1.9 percent in 2017, the national statistics office INSEE reported on Tuesday. It is the biggest annual expansion in 10 years, INSEE said.

The figure was in line with government and central bank forecasts and marked a considerable pickup from 2016 when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 1.1 percent. INSEE said the economy performed particularly strongly in the fourth quarter of last year.

The office noted that the acceleration in economic activity was driven largely by increased investment which was up 3.7 percent in 2017.

Another growth factor was strong private consumption, which increased by 1.3 percent.

Trade imbalance rising

Exports also picked up, growing by 3.5 percent last year, although the increase in imports was even bigger (+4.3 percent), meaning that France’s overall net foreign trade continued to weigh on growth, knocking 0.4 percentage points off GDP, INSEE reported.

Looking ahead to the current year, the office said it expected the French economy to expand by 0.5 percent in the first quarter, with annual growth to come in at 1.7 percent.

Unemployment is forecast to come down slightly in 2018, with the jobless rate set to fall to 9.4 percent by mid-year, compared with 9.7 percent at present.

hg/jbh (AFP, dpa)

Topics: france

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